"He that is Holy, He that is True" - Revelation 3:7

A bird being released from a hand

The Lord Jesus presents Himself in a distinctive way to each of the seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3, and His address is in accord with the moral condition of each assembly. To Laodicea, which is marked by unfaithfulness to her absent Lord and by boasting of herself instead of witnessing to Him, the Son of God speaks of Himself as “the faithful and true witness” (Revelation 3:14). He was what she should have been. The Lord had nothing to say reproachfully to Philadelphia, so presented Himself to her as “the Holy, the True,” a character which she, in some measure, reflected in her testimony for Jesus.

Every step of the Son of God on earth bore witness to His holiness, for what marked His ways in Godhead was seen in His steps in Manhood, for He could not be inconsistent with His nature whether seen as God or Man. In all God’s ways with His ancient people His holiness was prominent, even as quoted in 1 Peter 1:16, “Be ye holy, for I am holy,” every avenue of approach to God being safeguarded by His holy requirements. Nothing of defilement was allowed in relation to God’s dwelling, whether in the tabernacle or in the temple, whether in the priests or in the people, so that there might be the witness to the holiness of God.

When the Son of God’s coming into the world was announced, the holiness of His Manhood was jealously guarded in the words of Gabriel, “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore, also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). It was by the action of the Holy Spirit that Mary conceived, and what was born of her was “that holy thing.” The nature of the Son of God incarnate was that of a perfect Man, but without a trace of sin in it, even as the Scripture says, “in Him is no sin” (1 John 3:5). There was no sin in that holy One to which temptation could appeal (Hebrews 4:15).

In His sojourn in this world the Son of God was “holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). Although in His mission of grace He came into contact with sinners, He was not defiled by their sin. No more could He be defiled in His spirit by sin than defiled in His body by touching the leper. Intrinsically holy, there was the repelling power of holiness in His nature that made Him impervious to the defilement around Him, and yet there was that wondrous grace that attracted sinners to Him. Who but the Son of God could say, “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” (John 8:46).

King David was a man after God’s own heart, but Nathan the prophet convinced him of sin (2 Samuel 12:7). God said that Job was “a perfect and an upright man,” but having been in the presence of God, Job said of himself, “Behold I am vile,” and “I abhor myself” (Job 1:8; 2:3; 40:4; 42:6). Isaiah, who had been pronouncing woes upon Israel for their evildoing, saw the Lord in His glory and said of himself, “Woe is me…because I am a man of unclean lips” (Isaiah 6:5). Even Daniel, one of the loveliest characters in Scripture, said of himself, “my comeliness was turned in me into corruption” (Daniel 10:8). Simon Peter said, “I am a sinful man, O Lord” (Luke 5:8), and the great Apostle to the Gentiles wrote of himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15).

Only a holy, sinless victim could be offered for sin. Moses might offer himself to spare Israel at the foot of Sinai, and Paul might wish himself accursed to save his brethren after the flesh, but neither could avail to secure salvation for Israel. Jesus alone answered to the divine requirement, “a Lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19), and, in the goodness of God, He “through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” (Hebrews 9:14). The holiness that was manifested in Jesus in His path of devotion to God’s will, and that enabled Him to be the holy victim, manifested itself also in divine power, for Jesus has been declared the “Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:4).

This then is the One who is called “THE HOLY” in the address to Philadelphia, the One with whom we have to do now, for this is the character of the Son of God in relation to the church, and as known in the hearts of those who desire to be faithful to Him in the time of His absence. We are to be like Him, holy as He is holy, pure “as He is pure.” This can only be as we are occupied with Him where He is in glory, and rejecting this world and its things, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh (James 1:27; Jude 23).

Our blessed Lord also spoke of Himself to Philadelphia as “THE TRUE.” On earth He spoke of Himself as “the Truth” (John 14:6), for in Him all that God is in His nature of love and in His disposition of grace towards men was told out. Jesus was also “the true God,” for He is God as well as perfect Man (1 John 5:20). The Son of God is the true God in contrast to all the false gods which are the works of men’s hands, but He is also the true God as having brought God fully to light, for God is now seen in the Son as He truly is, and because of this it is also said of the Father in John 17:3 that He is “the only true God.” Well did the Son of God say, “I and my Father are One” (John 10:30).

We can absolutely rely on the Son of God as “The True,” for He is ever the Same, “yesterday, and today, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8). What He was in Manhood here below He is now where He sits upon the Father’s throne above: His grace, His love, His kindness, His devotion, His faithfulness to His own, just the same. His disciples depended upon Him with child-like trust, for He was ever there to care for them, their unfailing resource at all times. It was the consciousness of this that caused Simon Peter to say when challenged of the Lord, “Lord to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68): they had no one on whom they could rely on but Jesus.

If Jesus was “the True,” the One on whom the disciples could rely, He was God’s blessed Son on whom the Father relied, for “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into His hand” (John 3:35). All the resources of the Godhead had been entrusted to the Son for the accomplishment of the will of God and to secure the eternal counsels of the Father, and at the end of His path on earth, the Son could say to the Father, “I have glorified Thee on the earth: I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4). The Son of God is indeed THE True, the only One whom God has found to be absolutely trustworthy in everything committed to Him.

Every other man but Jesus has failed. Adam failed in his headship in Eden; Noah failed to govern himself when the government of the earth had been entrusted to him; Moses failed and could not enter the land of promise; Aaron failed in the management of the priestly order; David failed as king of Israel; and Nebuchadnezzar, who had been given the kingdoms of the world, had to be brought down to the level of a beast. What of every other man, great or small? The divine verdict is, “Cursed be the man that trusteth in a man, and maketh flesh his arm” (Jeremiah 17:5). Men, to some degree, trust their fellows when it is necessary to do so, but so often they discover to their sorrow and loss that their fellows are just as unreliable as themselves.

How blessed it is to turn away from all the failure and unreliability of men to the Son of God in whom the believer trusts, who has proved Himself so trustworthy in all things. The heart delights in Jesus as we see Him meeting every difficulty in His pathway here, whether it was the contradiction of sinners against Himself, the devices of Satan to ensnare Him, or the weaknesses of His disciples. With undeviating step the Son of God went steadily forward to the cross, His face set as a flint on His way to Jerusalem, there to meet the enemy in his power to overcome him, there to be made sin and to bear our sins, and having done all for the glory of God and our blessing, to take His place on high at God’s right hand, “the Holy, the True,” where our hearts can safely confide in Him.

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